Today I was browsing through the Iceland discussion board on Tripadvisor when I saw a question from a traveler coming to Iceland this week that was worried about the unfavorable weather forecast for her trip. To protect this person’s identity I’m not going to post a link to the question or quote her directly but basically the question went something like this:
So I’m scheduled to come to Iceland at [insert date] and I see that the long term weather forecast is pretty bad with lots of rain. I’m so bummed out by this – will I see anything in the rain? I’m seriously considering covering my bases by buying a ticket straight onward to Europe where the weather is better – I don’t want to spend my holiday in the rain.
Just yesterday I wrote a post in my Walking Tour Diary about a couple that joined one of my tours and complained that I was giving them false hopes with posting a lot of photos from sunny Reykjavík in the diary when they arrived a day later and it was cold, kind of windy and raining on top of that. Although they were joking this got me thinking about people’s expectations about the weather in Iceland.
A forecast is just a forecast
I’ve often said that the only predictable thing about the weather here is its unpredictability and although our meteorologists try their best to guide us through this uncertainty their forecasts are not exact science. It’s just what is likely to happen based on, well, I don’t know what it’s based on but I’m guessing some mathematical models and experience. If I had a hundred krónur for every time I’ve been disappointed with the weather after checking the weather forecast I’d be pretty rich. I’d also be rich if I had a hundred krónur for every time I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
Another thing to keep in mind regarding the weather forecast is that although it predicts rain it doesn’t mean it’s going to rain all day. Sometimes it does but often it just rains for a few minutes and then it’s over and done with. The weather man can’t tell you how exactly the rain behaves, he can only tell you that it might rain around a certain time in approximately this or that area. So all we might be talking about, in the case of the person mentioned at the beginning of this post, is relatively mild weather with occasional showers – is that a cause to cancel your trip to Iceland?
As a person that spends most of her days outside I suggest you celebrate the rain because it’s not snow, hale or sleet!
Iceland is and is not the weather
I know I’m always saying that the weather here is not as bad as people make it out to be, and I stand by that, but sometimes it’s pretty miserable. But that’s just Iceland and you should look at it as a part of your experience. I can’t think of a more authentic Iceland experience than walking in the cold wind, cursing the weather gods and waiting for the first opportunity to jump inside a cozy cafe for a warm drink or just to hug the radiator. There’s a reason why Lopapeysa is a popular attire.
I’m also just kind of naive in the way that I would think that if someone is looking for a sunny warm holiday they would go to a sunny warm country. You come to Iceland for the nature, the warm and friendly people, the yummy food and odd things like the Penis Museum or being lowered into an empty volcano. Not to wear a bikini (unless you go to the Blue Lagoon or the amazing thermal pools of course).
It’s all about perspective.
I actually think that being cold is basically a state of mind. You can choose to let it affect your holiday or you can seek out advice (on the internet for example) about how to dress and then follow that advice, decide you are going to enjoy this remarkable country no matter what and focus on all the amazing things you’re seeing and experiencing along the way.
I met my sister over the weekend and she told me that she was still thinking about our little road trip last spring where we traveled around the ring road for 10 days. She told me it was one of the best travel experiences of her life and a year later she is still encountering things that remind her of our escapades and how thankful she is for this time we spent together.
What’s really interesting about that is the fact that the weather was pretty terrible on that trip. One day it rained so much that we literally couldn’t go out of the car without getting soaked – I’ve never experienced anything quite like it before. The next day we got stuck on top of a mountain in a snow storm. Then we had to skip parts that we really wanted to see because of strong winds. We both got sick and I remember trying keep myself together for three hours on a whale watching tour, where the whales never bothered to show up, while all I wanted to do was call 112 and have a helicopter come to my rescue and bring me to a warm bed.
So how do you plan your trip to Iceland around the weather?
You don’t. You just pack a bunch of layers, hope for the best and think about my sister and the best trip of her life when the gray clouds start piling up. You’re in Iceland. It’s freaking amazing. Enjoy it.